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debt ceiling? you bet it is. otherwise, our debt goes up. our credit rating goes down. and there is another unfortunate consequence. as the debt of america requires a higher interest payment because we have defaulted, interest rates go up all across america. in montana, in illinois, in every state. people who are borrowing money to run a farm, like our presiding officer, to buy a car or to buy a house will pay more in interest. is that a good thing? of course not. particularly in a weak and recovering economy with nine million people out of work -- maybe 14 million if you add those who are only partially employed. 14 million people out of work and interest rates going up. businesses don't expand as they should. people don't buy things, they put it off, because interest rate costs are that much higher. that's what this is about.
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that's what the august 2 deadline is about. but it's about something more. it's about the debt of this nation, which is a serious, serious issue. we are now in a position where, as i mentioned earlier, we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend. we borrow it from americans who buy our treasuries and securities, and we borrow it from countries around the world who buy our debt. the leading creditor of the united states of america? china. the leading competitor of the united states of america? china. put those two things together and realize our vulnerability as our debt grows larger and our indebtedness to countries like china grows larger. it's not a good thing. plus, my son, daughter, my grandchildren and yours will end up paying this debt. they'll pay in their lives for what we're spendin spending -- g
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today. some of those things will benefit them but some won't. things we will consume they will pay for. that's not fair. and if we're going to deal with this debt, there is only one rational way to do it. about a year and a half ago, majority leader harry reid appointed me to the bowles-simpson deficit commission. it was president obama's commission. we met for ten months. we came up with a conclusion, 18 members, 11 of us voted for it, and what we said is if we're going to reduce this debt in a meaningful way over the next ten years, we need to put everything, everything on the table. everything. that's painful. it means putting on the table things that i fought for as a member of the house and senate and believe in and still do, but we got to take a look at them. is there a way to save money? is there a way to economize? is there a way to president the burden of responsibility and sacrifice so that it's fair in america?
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now, there are some who say, no, we're not going to put everything on the table. our talks have broken down recently with the republican leadership over whether or not under any circumstances -- underline the word "any circumstances" -- the wealthiest in america should pay more in taxes. they say no, not a penny. i don't think that's right. i think if we are going to deal with our debt and deficit in a meaningful way, that those who are well-off and comfortable in this great nation should help us. they need to sacrifice if we're asking the same of working families and everyone across the board. so this notion of no revenue, no tax increase is, in my mind, shortsighted and won't lead us to where we need to be. now, we also have to put entitlements on the table and that's when folks on my side, the democratic side of the 50eu8, start getting -- aisle, start getting nervous. we saw the house republican budget. we know what it does to medicare and, frankly, i voted against that. i would vote against it any time
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it's brought before us, because what it does to medi-scare to dramatically change medicare as we know it. for about 40 million americans, medicare is their only health insurance. these are folks over the age of 65, by and large, many of them with medical conditions who are uninsurable or certainly can't be insured at a premium rate they can afford to pay. medicare is there for them and has been for over 50 years. and so the notion in the house republican budget that we would double -- double -- on the out-of-pocket expenses for medicare recipients and beneficiaries from $,000 -- pardon me, up to $6,000 a year, is just something most people can't do. you know, if you are wealthy in your retirement, it's one thing, but most people are not. many are just living paycheck to paycheck on social security with meager savings. and the notion of spending $6,000 more a year out of pocket for medicare is beyond them.
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i reject that house republican budget approach. are there ways to save money in medicare? yes. let me give you an example. we created a medicare prescription drug program and we said finally we're going to help pay the prescription drugs of seniors because, you know what, if they get their medicine and they take it and they're well, they don't go to the hospital. and when they don't go to the hospital, their lives are better and our costs are lower. so it's better to give them the medicine they need and help them pay for it. now, we created a plan with private health insurance companies writing this plan for prescription drugs under medicare. what many of us thought we should do is go a step beyond it. we should allow the medicare system itself to offer a prescription drug benefit. we should model it after the veterans administration where the v.a. buys prescription drugs in bulk at discount so that our veterans and their families get the benefit of those bulk purchases.
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wwe can do the same thing on medicare and then leave it up to individuals across america, pick the plan you want. do you want to go with the private health insurance when it comes to prescription drug benefits? that's your choice. do you want to go with the medicare benefit? that's your choice. that choice could save us $100 billion a year. that's a lot of money. we could end up with the savings there helping to reduce our deficit and not compromise the basic promise of medicare prescription drugs. the same thing is true in social security. now, this is when it gets very tricky and a lot of people start heading for the exits, but here is the reality. social security, as currently written, with no changes whatsoever, will make every promised payment to every beneficiary for 25 years. with an annual cost-of-living increase. you can't say that about anything else in government. but what happens at the end of 25 years? well, unless something intervenes, at that point, the
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social security benefits drop 22%. that's a big hit for folks that are living on social security. so what can we do today, 25 years in advance, what small thing can we do today to social security which will build up the solvency and life of social security for even more years? that's a -- i think that's an honest challenge and we should view it as an honest challenge. not to eliminate social security but to say to the generation of younger workers in america, it's going to be there and you'll be darn lucky that it is there because a lot of seniors today can tell you the story of their lives paying into social security. they now receive the benefits. but what happened to their other plans for retirement? well, that little 401(k), that ira, that s.e.p. plan took a hit a few years ago, lost about 30% of its value. and for many americans with pension plans where their work,
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some of those companies went out of business and walked away from those pension obligations. social security has been there. we want it to be there in the future. so we can find ways to strengthen social security and give it a longer life. we can find ways to strength enmedicare and give it a longer life -- strengthen medicare and give it a longer life and still keep these entitlement programs. that has to be part of the conversation. mr. president, i spent the last few months following up on the bowles-simpson deficit commission meeting with a number of my senate colleagues. three ofous the democratic side, three -- three of us on the democratic side and three republicans. and we have tried to take the bowles-simpson proposal and put it into language that works, make it -- make a law out of it so that it works. well, we've been at it for a long time and we've had our ups and downs. one of our members left, came back. it's a tough assignment. it isn't easy. and sometimes emotions run high because there are things of great value and importance that are being discussed.
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but, mr. president, something happened this morning that was perhaps historic. we took our plan, which still is short of completion, and we sa said -- invited every member of the united states senate, democrats and republicans, to come and listen to a description of the plan. and if it's not -- if i'm not mistaken, senator warner's on the floor, he's on this group with me, 49 senators came to the room. and you know what? there were no fistfights, there were no -- there was no sweari swearing. instead, democrats and republicans -- democrats and republican senators sat in that room, 49 of them, listened to the outline of this group of six proposal, and came out with a positive feesmght not all of them. i'm not suggesting they all signed up. i would never expect that to happen. but it is significant, significant at this moment in our history that so many felt positive toward what we were doing. i hope we can take it to another level, another step. in the meantime, we have an important responsibility. we need to extend the debt
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ceiling on august 2. we cannot compromise the full faith and credit and credit score of the united states of america. we cannot let interest rates go up and raise our debt. we cannot let interest rates go up and kill the recovery that's taking place in this economy by killing jobs. we need to do our part here. we need to solve this problem on a bipartisan basis. and i happy to we can fold -- and i hope that we can fold into that as a critical element a plan to move forward in dealing with our debt. senator reid, the democratic majority leader, and senator mcconnell, the republican majority leader, are working together. america should take heart in that. the fact that they are trying to find a way through a very difficult political challenge. but the clock is running and we've got to get it done. and today you see a largely empty chamber as we prepare for a debate on a republican alternative. it's an alternative which i will oppose and speak against and tell you why. it is not going to pass. we know it's not going to pass.
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but we have said to the republicans, we'll give you your chance to make your case. that's what -- that's all any of us can ask in the united states senate. my plea to the republican side of the aisle is, let's do this and do it in a -- in an efficient, time-efficient manner. let's not waste time. let's try on get to a good, healthy debate on this and to a vote and then move to extend the debt ceiling on a bipartisan basis. if we don't, if the rating agencies which downgraded us last week come back and hit us again, it's going to hurt this economy and it's going to hurt the families and businesses that count on us to make the right and important decisions on a timely basis. so i urge my colleagues on the republican side, wage a debate, wage a spirited debate in defense of what you believe in and we will too on the other side, but let's not drag this out for days and days and weeks. we don't have that much time. we've got to get down to business. mr. president, i yield the flo floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the junior senator from virginia. mr. warner: mr. president, i will be very brief but i just
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want to commend my colleague and friend, the senator from illinois, for his comments today and affirm his sentiments. we've got two problems in front of us right now. one an immediate problem on raising the debt ceiling, which if we have a downgrade in our debt, will be a tax increase on every american family, every american business in the cost of higher interest rates. we have to get that debt ceiling raised. that has been something i have been advocating for over a year. but we also have to take the second step and that is to put in place a long-term deficit-reduction plan. and my friend, the senator from illinois, and i and others have been working on this, the senator from georgia and i started this over a year ago, but we had something that i believe as a new senator was pretty significant this morning where virtually half the united states senate came, bipartisan way and said, hey, it ain't perfect but this makes sense as
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a way to move forward. we've got to do our jobs and i want to particularly thank the senator from illinois who has worked so hard on preserving the safety net in these discussions. some of my colleagues on the republican side who recognize we've got to sort through a way to reform our tax code in a meaningful way. these are acts of political courage and i commend them bot both.an. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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issue that is under discussion here in washington on deficit reduction is of enormous consequence. it will impact not only our generation but the decisions
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reached will impact our children and our grandchildren and the future of our country, and it is terribly, terribly important that the american people become engaged in this debate. i fear that if they do not, if we leave the discussions totally to folks inside the beltway, that the results will be a disaster for tens of millions of working families, for the elderly, for the sick, for the children, for the environment and for the future of our nation. so my plea today is that for the american people to get heavily involved, to get on the phone, to call up their senators, their members of congress to demand not whether the budget deal that is reached is a big deal or a small deal or a medium-sized deal but that the budget
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agreement that is reached is a fair deal, a fair deal, one that reflects the values of our country, one that understands what is going on in the economy today, one that addresses the issue of how we got into this horrendous deficit situation in the first place, and when we talk about a fair deal, one has got to understand what the american economy is today, and that is that we have a middle class that is collapsing, we have poverty increasing and we have a growing gap between the very wealthiest people in our country and everybody else. and to my mind, at a time when the rich are doing phenomenally well, when corporate profits are extremely high, when the tax rate, the effective tack rate for the wealthy is the lowest in modern history, when you have many corporations making
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billions of dollars in profits and paying nothing in taxes, it would be immoral and bad economic policy to move toward a deficit reduction approach which balances the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the sick and the poor and that does not ask the wealthiest people or the largest corporations to contribute one nickel, one nickel to deficit reduction. that is absolutely wrong. mr. president, one of the areas that concerns me very much is that in the midst of all of this deficit reduction talk seemingly out of nowhere comes the idea that we must make major cuts in social security benefits. and let me suggest to you that i
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think that that is absolutely wrong for a number of reasons. number one, social security has not contributed one nickel toward our deficit. social security trust fund has a a $2.6 trillion surplus. social security can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible american for the next 25 years, and it is wrong, wrong, wrong to make significant cuts in social security as part of deficit reduction. it is wrong because social security hasn't contributed to the deficit. it is wrong because president obama specifically campaigned against any cuts toward social security, and it is wrong because cutting social security would hurt in a very significant
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way millions of the most mubl people in our country. mr. president, there is discussion going around about moving toward a so-called chain c.p.i. which would be used to determine social security's annual cola, a new formulation on the cola. let me be very clear. when i was in the house, i introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the social security cola because i believed then and i believe now that the current cola is inadequate and unfair to seniors because it does not take into account the high cost of health care and prescription drugs. in my view, the current cola formulation understates what seniors and disabled vets should be getting. what some are proposing in terms of moving toward a chain c.p.i.
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would move us in exactly the wrong direction. it would not adequately reflect the purchasing needs of seniors but in fact would underestimate those needs. mr. president, the social security administration chief actuary estimates the effects of the so-called chain c.p.i. would be that beneficiaries who retire at age 65 and receive average benefits would get $560 less a year at age 75 than they would under current law. now, around here, $560 may not seem like a lot of money, but if you are 75 years of age and you're bringing in $14,000 or or $16,000 a year and you're trying to pay for prescription drugs or health care, $560 is, in fact, a lot of money. and worse, if you move toward
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the chain c.p.i., social security beneficiaries by the time they reach 85 would receive receive $1,000 less a year, which would be a 6.5% cut in their benefits. so, mr. president, we are in an unusual moment in that the people who helped cause this recession, the greedy people on wall street whose recklessness, whose greed, whose illegal behavior drove us into this recession, they are not being asked to contribute one nickel toward deficit reduction. they were bailed out by the american people. in many respects now, they are doing better than they did before the wall street crash, and what many here, my
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republican friends especially are saying no, no, no, wall street c.e.o.'s making tens of millions a year who helped cause this recession, no, they don't have to contribute one penny toward deficit reduction. but if you are an 85-year-old senior citizen who is struggling to take care of basic necessities, well, my goodness, we are going to have to do deficit reduction on your back. that is not what america is supposed to be about. that is not what the american people want. poll after poll suggests that the american people believe that we should move toward deficit reduction based on the concept of shared sacrifice, that we're all in this together, that, yes, even if you are a millionaire and you make a whole lot of campaign contributions and, yes, if you are a billionaire and you have got lobbyists running all
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over capitol hill, you know what? you're going to have to help us with deficit reduction. and yes, given the fact that we have major corporation ever after -- corporation after major corporation, oil companies, wall street making billions of dollars in profit and in some cases paying nothing in taxes, guess what? we are going to do away with those loopholes so that you start contributing toward deficit reduction. and you know what? given the fact that we have tripled military funding since 1997, yes, we're going to have to make some cuts in military spending. so let me conclude, mr. president, by simply saying this. yes, we have got to reduce our deficit and deal with our national debt, but the issue is not a big deal or a small deal. the issue must be a fair deal, one which protects social security, medicare, medicaid, the needs of working families,
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and a deficit reduction approach which asks the wealthiest people and the largest corporations to also participate in deficit reduction. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until 2:15 p.m. pp recess:
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>> you're watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy events and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our website. and you can join on the conversation on social media sites. >> with titles like slander, godless, guilty and her latest demonic ann coulter has something to say now sunday august 7th, your chance to talk to, email and tweet the "new york times" bestseller author
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and syndicated columnist ann coulter. in-depth live on booktv on c-span2. >> several republican congressmen showed outside of the white house this morning with a letter demanding that the president present a written plan detailing his plans for deficit reduction. we will show you some of their comments later in our schedule. you also may hear something about that from jay carney, the white house spokesman, his briefing should get underway shortly. we plan to carry it live for you. this as the white house prepares for debate, some four or five hours debate on the balanced budget limit. we have been covering the british parliament hearing on the u.k. phone hacking scandal with testimony from rupert murdoch and chairman ceo and also his son james murdoch. the hearing wrapped up and they resumed after a brief interruption in london after a protester threw what appeared to
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be foam pie at mr. murdoch. here's what happened this morning. >> the last question and i will try to be a few very specific questions that i would like to ask you. starting with you mr. james murdoch, you've been over at length the differences and to pay the settlements, can you just tell me whether or not the settlements included a confidentiality clause and maybe the other settlements did not? [screaming] >> again, part of the disruption today at the phone hacking scandal in london, a parliament hearing that was underway and ran three hours or so. we're going to show that to you
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later on in our program schedule and we also want to remind you tomorrow on here on c-span2, we will be covering the statement of prime minister david cameron that will get underway at 6:30 eastern live here tomorrow morning on c-span2. we're hoping to take you live to the white house for the briefing with jay carney in just a couple minutes. again as the house prepares debate today on their balanced budget amendment and discussions continue on the looming deadline, the debt ceiling deadline which is now two weeks away. we spoke about that -- both of those issues with the capitol hill reporter this morning on "washington journal." >> host: to give us more information about the house and set the scene we've got joseph shots with us. good morning. >> guest: good morning. how are you? >> host: good thank you. this is expected to pass the house but ultimately fail in the senate so what is the intention of the vote today in the house? >> guest: well, basically this is the -- this is a spending cut plan favored by the most conservative house republicans.
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it would immediately make marijuana cuts to discretionary spending. $111 billion in cuts in 2012, fiscal 2012. it would set caps on discretionary spending well into the future. capping spending as a percentage of the economy. and it would set up a process for -- it would make a debt limit increase contingent upon passage of a constitutional balanced budget amendment. this is what conservatives are pushing for on this whole debt limit debate. there's been a lot of debate over the last line of negotiations, over the last few months where republicans have sought spending cuts in return for a debt limit increase and this is sort of there. their bargaining position essentially. what's going on behind the scenes is, you know, leadership in the white house right now is trying to find a compromised deal to avert a default come
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august 2nd. but conservatives are going on record this week that this is their preferred option. >> joseph schatz, you mentioned, sir, what's going on in one layer and perhaps a sublayer what's going on below the surface. what are the meetings taking place? the president's schedule is fairly open today. are we expecting to see him get together with house or senate leaders? >> guest: i don't think we'll see that today. the president met with congressional leaders almost every day last week. and, you know, said that they were going to meet every day until they got a deal. but, of course, the last time they actually met was thursday so, you know, the hopes for a grand deal out of the white house has dimmed quite a bit. and as a result, the house is going forward with this vote. senate republicans are trying to get a vote on the cut cap balance plan as well, as well as the cuts to the balanced budget amendment. after those votes are done then we'll see the real negotiating begin. i don't think you'll see any white house meetings today but once the house has acted on this
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plan, i think you'll see more movement in the senate towards the compromise. senator mitch mcconnell, the minority leader, last week put out a compromised sort of a backup plan and that's been gaining a lot of traction in the senate while not really in the house yet. but i think you'll see the discussion shift to that after the house acts on this bill. >> host: now, the president has said he will veto any cut, cap balance bill so what makes it still relevant to be discussed here? >> guest: the republicans feel -- for all the negotiation and the talk of the debt limit over the last few months there have been very few votes on it. and republicans, particularly in the house, want to be on record saying that this -- you know, that they want major spending cuts and that's what it would be. the white house said the president would veto this bill. they've been very clear about that. because it would really pare back the spending on the priorities of the white house and, you know, they say that
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balanced budget amendment is needed to make the spending cuts and deficit reduction that these conservatives want. but they want to be on record -- they want to tell their base particularly tea party groups that they fought for this. and, you know, a lot of the moderates are willing to compromise after they get done with this bill and this is where they are and this is what they think. >> host: and so what promises after the cut, cap balance is passed presumably in the house that house republicans and republicans in the senate will be willing to negotiate and move towards that mcconnell possibly mcconnell-reid plan that's evolving right now. >> guest: that's really the question of the day. senate republicans has made it clear that they are willing to compromise due to this mcconnell plan. in his words last week they won't be party to a default. but the question is, you know, how do you get those votes in the house republican conference that will probably take a lot of votes from democrats in the house to pass any debt limit increase. and the big question in the
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coming days is, is how john boehner and eric cantor get some compromise from their conference. and still, one of the remarkable things for the last two weeks no one exactly knows, you know, where the votes are in the how republican office particularly with all the new junior members and the tea party freshman it's been very clear sort of what they would support what it would be a debt limit and the cut cap balance is come to close is something they would all support. we'll see whether it passes today and how many votes it gets. and then -- and the conversation will shift. >> host: our guest joseph schatz from "congressional quarterly" wrote a recent story and said, it appeared more evident over the weekend that senior members of neither party want to see the debt limit dispute become a showdown with unpredictable political and economic consequences. what are you hearing in the halls of congress as far as how this is playing out politically? there's some polls today looking at how americans are perceiving the president and the republicans and democrats as
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they bargain their way through this. is this becoming more of a potential political threat to members? >> guest: that's how republicans increasingly see it. i think part of what was striking about the mcconnell plan last week is that senator mcconnell decided that the president basically was not going to support spending cuts that republicans were gunning for. and as a result, republicans were probably going to end up taking the fall if there was a default, if there was an economic crisis and there were polls saying -- or a poll yesterday saying, you know, the public disapproves of the republican party's handling of this crisis, you know, it's provable on obama as well but the ratings are low for republicans. i think a lot of the republicans particularly in the senate sense a lot of political peril in this debate as we go towards august 2nd, which is the day after a default will happen according to the treasury department. i think you're sort of in and among the elder statesmen in the republican party there's a lot of worry about whether they will
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get blamed for eventually -- or an economic crisis if a default occurs. >> host: and finally, joseph schatz, as you cover congress are you sense ago heightened tension in the halls as we get closer to the august 2nd deadline are things the same as they were a week ago. >> guest: that's a good question. there's a little bit more tension but i think there's still just a lot of confusion about what -- how this gets dealt with and how -- how you find the votes in the house. but i think people are still -- there was tension definitely in some of those white house meetings last week but i think in the halls in congress, people are trying to figure out where this debate goes. there's two weeks to go before august 2nd and, you know, the 11th hour hasn't quite been reached yet. >> host: joseph schatz senior writer for "congressional quarterly" thanks a lot. >> guest: thank you very much. >> and look for debate in the u.s. house getting ready shortly that's on c-span. here on c-span2, we are hearing the white house briefing pushed back now to 1:30 so we're going
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to take you to a briefing this morning from house republican leadership. they're talking here about the so-called cut cap balance bill that's coming up for debate. it's about 15 minutes. >> good morning, everyone. >> good morning. >> this morning the house will consider cut, cap and balance. and when you look at the tremendous threat that faces our country from out of control spending, it's pretty clear to our members that cutting spending, capping spending in the future and requiring a balanced budget amendment is the most responsible thing that we can do to address our problems today and to address our problems long term. the president has said -- he wants a balanced approach. well, guess what?
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in cut, cap and balance he does get a balanced approach. he gets his increase in the debt limit of $2.4 trillion. what we get are real cuts in spending and real reforms in place that will make sure that this problem never, ever happens again. listen, the president's actions have not matched his rhetoric. he talks about getting serious will cutting spending. we still have not seen the president's plan. it's time for the president to get serious about working with congress to solve this impending crisis. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> we are two weeks out. and i know this has been a very long process. people are frustrated who are watching but i think the real frustration lies with the people at home and communities across this country that are out of work and that are struggling.
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now, the facts are this government is spending too much. we're borrowing over 40 cents of every dollar that washington spends. and there are millions of people in this country still out of work. but we need to do two things. we need to have washington start spending less and we need to get people back to work and businesses to start hiring again. cut, cap and balance makes sure that the government stops spending. and it makes sure that we begin to treat taxpayer dollars as if they are that, those dollars belonging to the people and deal with them more responsibly. now, the president continues to say that he wants to do big things. we do as well. you know that. we put forward our big plans and visions in our budget. but we implore the president, let's do big things. let's go ahead and get our
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fiscal house in order, but let's do so without imposing higher taxes on the small business people that we need so desperately to start hiring agai again. >> today is going to be a very big contrast of the different approach the republicans and the president have taken when it comes to major issues. the president talked about big things but i think the american public expects more than a big speech. the congressional budget office says they cannot score a speech there is no plan by the president. we are two weeks out. there is no budget by the senate. the american public expects us to get back to work. expects us to get a job done. today you'll see a bill on the floor that is straightforward. no more budget tricks, no more accounting gimmicks, no more
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lies to the american people. with me curb it and cut it and balance it for the future. the democrats sit back and say somehow they're opposed to a balanced budget. 16 years ago if they had that one more vote we wouldn't be here today. i want you to all imagine for one moment -- imagined that vote passed, what would our press conference be about today? would westbound investing in something. would westbound worried about unemployment? would westbound wondering about how big america is growing? well, now is the opportunity. we welcome democrats to join dawes but if they don't we'll pass it on our own. that is the contrast. that is the difference that we will need to challenge the president to join us. this is a plan on the table. republicans have been on good faith. the speaker, this leader has sat in meeting after meeting after meeting. the message has never changed for this message. he just wants to spend more. that's not where the american
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public is at. and we cannot continue to wait. so today is a forward movement. we ask the senate to join with us. we ask democrats to join with us. and we ask once and for all the president, no more big speeches. let's make america move in a big direction. >> the american people have long since said, washington, quit spending money we don't have. the american people have long since said, washington, quit borrowing 42 cents on the dollar, much of it from the chinese in sending the bill to our children and grandchildren. house republicans has heeded the call, not only with our budget but now today with cuts, cap and balance. cut our spending to '08 levels. i haven't really met anybody who thought government was too small before president obama became president.
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cap, it means let's not let the size of government double in our children's lifetimes which is, of course, the president has set it upon. let's put it on a path of no more than 20% of our economy as it has been on average in the post-war era, balanced. every family in my district has to balance their budget around the kitchen table. every small business in east texas has to balance their budget. do we really think a great nation can go on imperpetuity without balancing theirs? no. and before the ink was even dry on the bill, the president issued his veto threat. the only credible plan that will save america from bankruptcy and avoid default is cut, cap and balance. mr. president, where's your plan? we haven't heard a plan. we've heard a speech. we've heard a proposal, to put
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job-killing tax increases on middle incomed families and small businesses but mr. president, we haven't heard your plan. so if you're going to veto our plan -- if you're not going to support our plan, mr. president, we need to see your plan. >> in 2006, then senator barack obama voted against raising the debt ceiling. and he said that the rising debt showed a lack of leadership. now president barack obama has asked the congress to raise the debt ceiling 2.4 trillion in order to fund many of his expensive policy initiatives. now, before we ask every american family for an additional $20,000 -- before we saddle every american family with an additional $20,000 in debt, we believe that we must cut up those credit cards. we must change the way
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government spends money. and we must stop spending money that we don't have. house republicans are committed to getting our fiscal house in order. we are committed to protecting our excellent credit rating. it is the national debt that threatens our credit rating. we're moving forward on cut, cap and balance today. we believe it is a plan that protects our economy. it will help grow our economy. we also believe that it is a plan that will ensure the american dream remains alive for many years to come. >> look, the white house is spending all their time trying to convince americans that balancing the budget is irresponsible. and they're putting a ton of effort into this because they know they're wrong and they know the american people aren't buying it. this plan makes good commonsense. cut spending now and as a percentage of gdp going forward and balance the budget as conference chair pointed out. every single family, every
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single small business, every township, every municipality, every county, every state -- the only entity that doesn't have to balance their budget is oh, by the way the one that has the $14 trillion debt. this makes good commonsense and the second thing and i'll finish here. this is the plan. this is a compromised plan. this is what the american people need and that's why i applaud our leadership for bringing this forward and we're going to have a strong vote today. >> i didn't create this mess but i am here to help clean it up. and the reality is, we have got to solve the underlying problem. all we ask that we balance our budget over the course of time. that's all we ask. and to the senators who struggle with this idea that a balanced budget amendment might be a bad thing, let's remember that the senators are supposed to represent the states. let's send this bill to the states. let's actually passed a balanced budget amendment and send it to their states for their input. there was a moment of clarity yesterday when we read the statement about the president saying that he was going to veto
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this bill saying that this would -- to not be bipartisan. that this was unreasonable policy. balancing our budget is not bipartisan? that was a moment of clarity for me. what the markets needs, what we need for jobs and stability, what we need for businesses to grow we have to be persistent and live up to the obligations that we've made in this country. a balanced budget amendment would do that. and i'm glad that we're now debating and i'm fired up more than we have ever been that we're going to truly change the way business is done in the united states of america and that's what the balanced budget amendment and that's what we're fighting for. i appreciate the leadership calling up this bill. i think it's going to be a great day. we have a plan and the clock is ticking. we have a way to solve this problem. >> cut, cap and balance puts in place a treatment plan for the addictions that washington has with spending money. and i encourage all of our fellow republicans -- i know it
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will pass the house. and i believe it is a strong policy that we're putting in place. you know, the president doesn't have a plan. and he has said that he will veto this one. what he wants to do is raise taxes on our business owners. any individual who has $200,000 or more, what will that do? we have to be clear about it. it's not the business owner that comes up with new innovative ideas for his business. it's going to be the middle class and lower-incomed individuals who are going to lose their jobs. we will go on as business owners figuring out ways to be productive and to make a profit. profit is not a bad word. but it will be the middle class and the low-incomed who will lose their jobs and right now the thing we need the most in this country are jobs. and we have to do it in the private sector.
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we can talk all day long here in front of this microphone, and we can pass bill after bill in this house and then it sits at the steps of the senate. and i encourage my fellow colleagues in the senate pass this cut, cap and balance bill because you will be part of this very significant historical move that we are making to set in motion fiscal responsibility that we haven't seen in a long time here in washington. and i would encourage the president to back off of the idea of vetoing this. be part of this. he will be the president who put in place a balanced budget amendment to move forward -- this is historic. it will be his. they won't remember the republicans that put forth this bill. they will remember president barack obama, who amended the constitution to put in place a balanced budget amendment.
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i encourage my colleagues to vote for this. it is very strong. it is very meaningful. and i'm just thanking the leadership for realizing this so that we can move forward and rebuild the trust that the american people have lost with us. and we can do it today. thank you. >> mr. speaker -- >> speaker boehner? >> i understand the grievance you have with the senate when it comes to not passing the balanced budget amendment, but how can you say this is a legitimate plan, criticize the president for not having a plan when this does not have a chance of passing the senate? >> well -- >> and getting two-thirds in the house. >> i'm not going to go out of my way to say or predict that the senate can't pass this. there's nothing the senate can't do, when they want to. >> can you get two-thirds to pass a balanced budget amendment -- >> in 1997, the two-thirds
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necessary for a constitutional amendment passed the house. and got 66 votes in the united states senate. one shy of the votes necessary. and i just believe in the current environment, anything's possible. >> mr. speaker, can you give us is sense about -- assuming by some miracle this does not pass in the senate, okay, what -- [laughter] >> are you -- are you still working with the white house to try to craft some kind of a grand compromise that would truly deal -- >> i'm not going to give up hope on cut, cap and balance. but i do think it's responsible for us to look what plan b would look like. and the leadership had a long conversation yesterday about plan b. there are a lot of options available to us. there have been no decisions made as yet.
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>> are you confident with whatever happens you'll be able to avoid reaching august 2nd without, you know, having some kind of way of raising the debt ceiling. >> i said for months that the folding on our debt would be irresponsible. but just as irresponsible would be to increase the debt limit without taking serious action to reduce current spending in our long-term obligations. >> mr. speaker? mr. speaker? >> for days if not weeks yourself and the president and others have been publicly sparring over the nature of what should happen over this debate over raising the debt ceiling. yet, you have moments like sunday where unannounced the principals have been meeting and those work around you and keeping open the lines of communication. to what degree -- when you raise bills like cut, cap and balance which some people on the other side of the aisle are not happy
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about, does that antagonize the process and is it really political theater or real substance of what you're trying to do? >> it's about finding 218 votes, a majority of the house, to do the responsible thing. you know, there are -- there are lots of ideas out there from democrats and republicans but guess what? none of them have a majority. this proposal has a majority. it's a responsible plan. that's why we put it forward. >> mr. speaker? mr. speaker? >> you yourself had said today that the clock is ticking august 2nd is coming upon us very quickly. how do you explain to the american people it's very unlikely it's going to anywhere in the senate and if so the president will veto cut, cap and balance. why do you want to take this up when you have a very finite amount of time left to get something done to raise the debt ceiling? >> the president said he wanted a balanced plan. that's what this is. it's a balanced plan. he gets his increase in the debt limit. we get real cuts in spending and
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real reforms that will make sure this doesn't happen again. thanks, everybody. >> discuss on the ryan budget, do you want your members to discuss on it? [inaudible conversations] >> republicans from earlier today just an update -- that cut, cap and balance on balanced budget amendment that is on the floor now. they're debating the rule. you can follow that on c-span. here on c-span2 we're hoping to take you live to the white house at 1:30 for the briefing there. the white house or the house democrats, rather, held their press conference today with president -- they started their press conference with president reagan's 1987 call on congress to raise the debt ceiling. you're going to hear from caucus chairman john larson and vice chair javier becerra from earlier today. it's about 30 minutes. [inaudible]
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.. >> if you could roll that, please. >> congress rings the government to the edge of fault before facing issues possibly. this threatens the forms of government bonds and those who
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rely on social security and benefits. interest rates would skyrocket. instability would occur in financial markets and the federal deficit would soar. the united states is a specialist hospital to itself and the world to meet its obligations. it means with a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility. two things that set us apart from much of the world. >> we have been doing this as part so the our caucus can continue to get this message out. as many of you know and as reported a number of people in the public continue to look at this issue, the debt ceiling, especially at a time when they are most concerned about jobs and say what is this all about. the frame that our erstwhile colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been using, that this is somehow cutting out the country's credit card and
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stopping us from spending more. of course, all of you being well-informed individuals that you are no that's not the case. in fact, this is defaulting on the nation's responsibility, and could not be put more bluntly, or more articulately than ronald reagan laid out in 1987. in fact, 17 times ronald reagan raise the debt ceiling, and without the taking of any hostages. yes, there were political disagreements as there always are, but at the end of the day the country voted bipartisanly to make sure you didn't put people on the brain. i dare say that 17 times for him and seven times for george bush we were not in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression. and yet when i go home, i continue to hear from my constituents about jobs. what the american people are concerned about is giving them
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the innovation, the infrastructure, and the education to put the middle class the back to work. and so here we are engaged in what almost seems like high theater. the president bending over backwards to try to accommodate and cajoled the republicans into doing what should be the right thing. from my perspective, and i daresay a number of numbers in our caucus, we should have a clean debt ceiling vote, and take this cup away from the american people. we know that the tremendous effects it will have on their household economies, let alone the disastrous global and national effects that the debt ceiling would, if it wasn't passed, would have. but also i think this is what is at stake here. why can't we keep people at the table? discussing the most important issue of the day. let's agree that cuts have to be
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made. certainly we have chris van hollen, have the are both participate in committees that recognize that. but the catcher should be strategic. they should be strategic around growing jobs. let's also agree that we have to grow this economy. and that we can make cuts in a way that both deal with waste, like the subsidies to oil companies get, but also provide revenues are going to produce jobs. let everything be about the creation of jobs. and help the president keeps speaker boehner and mitch mcconnell and everybody focused on that, especially as we head up to the august break and find that not one single job has been created or offered by this republican controlled house. show us the jobs that are coming
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from all of these proposed cuts. the american people are going to have an opportunity here, as we sit and do something that was routinely done for other presidents, but in this case holding hostage medicare and social security, which we will fight to make sure it is not a part of any decision, but to make sure, to make sure that what we are hearing back home in our districts, which is still about the creation of jobs, gets addressed strategically. with that, the vice chairman of the caucus. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. seven months into this republican majorities leadership, and not one single jobs bill to their credit. 14 days from plunging us into this economic black hole, and what are we going to debate on the floor of the house today? i cut and paste budget which,
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quite honestly, is nothing more than a movie we have already seen before, and it wasn't too good the first time we saw it when republicans virtually plunged the country into a stoppage of work and close down the government in their budget debates of a few months ago. here we go again. and so, at some point the question might be -- must be asked of our republican colleagues, when will this congress be focused on what the american public wants to see? and that is job creation, working with the private sector, to stimulate jobs, to give the business community that confidence to go out there and invest and hire. how do you inspire confidence out there in the private sector when the private sector doesn't know if they'll have a line of credit it can take out because, if republicans move forward with what they threaten to not allow
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the government to pay its debts, i doubt they will be very many banks that are willing to lend a lot of folks money to open up a new business or hire new people, or buy more product. and so we are waiting. we have never left the table of negotiations. twice we've seen republicans walked out on those negotiations. and now the clock is ticking with 14 days ago. you have to use a balanced approach as we've always said, but the worst thing is when you walk away from negotiation and walk forward into the economic of this, taking everyone with you. we are ready and we're waiting for republicans to get serious if we will get past this vote. maybe once we get past this vote republicans will get serious about doing their job. when they do, democrats will be ready. with that let me move on to chris van hollen. >> thank you. i want to thank my colleagues.
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and the bill does on the floor today, the republicans are playing a very dangerous game with the american economy. and with jobs. we just heard this clip from ronald reagan about what the consequences are of failing to pay your bills. american families can't choose not to pay the bills. they know if they don't pay the bills their credit worthiness goes down. interest rates would go up around the country, and that would take an already fragile economy. what republicans are saying in this bill today is that if others don't need 100% of their demand to reduce the deficit their way, ending the medicare guarantee, slashing education while protecting special interest tax breaks, if you don't do it 100% their way, they will allow the economy to go into a tailspin. that's what they're voting on today. now, they already tried once, as
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my colleague said, to pass the budget that ends the medicare guarantee, slashes medicaid, millions of seniors in nursing homes depend on. then they tried it again. it's not going anywhere in the senate because the american people don't want to in the medicare guarantee. they don't like that plan. they don't want to take special interest tax breaks. what are they trying to do today? they will pass a bill that says unless the congress in the next few weeks passes a constitutional amendment that would manipulate the constitution in a way to put their budget into the constitution of the united states, they are going to refuse to pay the bills of the country and let the economy sink. this is not a garden-variety balanced budget. no one should be calling it that. we can have an honest debate about a balanced budget amendment.
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this in plans to mechanism into the constitution of the united states to address the deficit the way the republicans want to do it. slashing medicare and protecting special interest tax breaks. they have on probation they would write in the constitution that says you can get medicare and social security with a simple majority vote, but if you want to cut the subsidy towards an oil and gas company, or if you want to cut the subsidy for corporate jet, you need a two-thirds vote. they will implant that into the constitution of the united states. they will put in the constitution of the united states a preference for cutting medicare and social security over cutting special interest tax breaks. number two, they passed their version of a twisted constitutional amendment out of judiciary committee. it caps federal expenditure at 18%. the united states has not been under that level since 1966.
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and so by putting that artificial cap in place, they are guaranteeing that we will have to cut medicare, which by the weight wasn't acted in 1965. you have to cut social security, make deep cuts in education while you protect the special interest tax breaks. so really it is anti-democratic. they would prevent future congresses from responding to the will of the american people to balance the budget in a difference where. it bounces in a balanced way. to balance the budget in a way that allows us to address the needs of retiring baby boomers with respect to social security and medicare. the president has put on the table a balanced approach. it is modeled after the bipartisan simpson-bowles proposal. it's not every detail but it says we'll get $3 in spending cuts for every dollar of revenue increased. and we all know the republicans want to move away from the
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table. as chairman larson said because they refused to allow 1 penny of revenue imposing a special interest tax loophole to go for the purpose of deficit reduction. that is their position. the american people want a balanced approach. so do we. let's get on with the business of the country. >> time for a few questions and then we're on our way. >> thank you very much. >> congressman, what is the level of sentiment of the approach from senators mcconnell? is that an acceptable alternative? >> i would say right now that that is unfolding. we don't have all the details on it. i will say, i will say this. i think that our film was about an adult moment. i think from the standpoint of recognizing, even with opposition from people here in
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the house, mitch mcconnell is trying to get to a point where we don't default on our credit. he is doing so with harry reid. they are sitting down and trying to get to that point. the details of how they're going to get there haven't been fully fleshed out. perhaps amongst in their inner circles they have, but in terms of our caucuses ability to digest that. of course, the majority of our caucus continues to believe, and we have voted on this once, that continues to believe that perhaps there should have been a grander deal that the president was sitting down and talking about doing something big for the country that would send an enormous message beyond this particular crisis, this, what i believe is a manufactured crisis because it was routinely adopted by other congresses when president bush, president
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reagan, george herbert walker bush and president clinton needed this. not without a back and forth and give and take over the debt ceiling, but it was commonplace. we believe that that ought to happen. the debt limit ought to happen, but we ought to stay and discuss the serious nature of cuts that need to be done in a strategic manager deal with the deficit to grow jobs. as chris said they have not been willing to do with any of these subsidies that have been given outcome any of the jobs that get shipped overseas, and alternatives and incentives that might be added to this. everything should be about growing the economy and creating jobs. even as we approach the debt ceiling here. that is the opportunity. the president was thinking a big plan. they have walked away from that on a couple of times, but this is a very serious problem we face with the debt ceiling. so to the extent that they are
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taking an adult step in the senate, msn is taking action, well, and house we always welcome the senate when they take action, on just about anything. >> a follow-up to that. what are your thoughts on -- [inaudible] >> again, i was as long as the commission is focused and it's my understanding come again, we don't have the details, that it would function like a brack commission that unlike the constitutional amendment as chairman ben holland laid out, you know, where there's this choice we are able to cut medicare and social security, but not raised, not be able to raise taxes or make the cuts on subsidies to oil companies, that this is going to be a balanced approach. this is what we've heard pickled a balanced approach and be like a bright commission were will
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create again, get away from the arcane world of the senate where you require 60 votes to do something, that it would be an up or down vote that would be a balanced approach. that's our understanding to date with regard to the. i do my colleagues want to add anything to that or not. >> listen, thank you very much come and appreciate the time. please enjoy the cookies. notetakers? there actually very good. [inaudible conversations] >> the house democratic caucus leaders from earlier today, and just an update, the house has begun debate on a balanced budget amendment. the cat kept in balance bill as it's been called, lost the
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debate this afternoon. four hours of general debate and you can follow the rule debate that is underway now over on c-span. on c-span2, the senate will be back in about an hour and they will continue consideration of the 2012 military construction and veterans affairs bill. we will have that live for you. hoping to take you live momentarily or at least and a couple of minutes to the white house for the briefing with jay carney. that is now rescheduled to 1:30 p.m. eastern. we will take you live when it gets under way. we'll hear from this morning "washington journal." we were joined by florida republican congressman john mica. "washington journal" continues. host: congressman john mica, republican, joining us now. guest: thank you. >host: we will talk transportation as you are chairman of the transportation and infrastructure committee.
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first, cut, cap, and balance is expected to pass the house today. you will vote for it? guest: i will. the situation we find ourselves in, i think everyone is really disturbing across the nation, we have to get the nation's finances in order. it's one proposal. there will be others. but i think that it's a beginning and 87 very conservative members want to make a difference. i think the others that were sent have to make a difference. this is part of their proposal, to cut of the spending, cap some of the expenditures long-term, and then balance the budget. host: it's possible that not one democrat. may vote for democrat the white house says the president will veto it. guest: it's part of the process.
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you have to have 435 individuals. all of them want different ideas. someone said there are 435 class presidents and all of them have their own ideas and some of them are bringing them forward today. the good thing about the country is we have survived some very difficult times and this is a difficult time. the process somehow works. i think this is the plan on the table. i don't know a lot of other plans right now. but we have to do something to get spending under control and restore the nation's credit. we are against a tough deadline. host: marcus writes on twitter -- guest: i don't think it's wasting time. it's part of the process. what other measures are on the table?
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so you start with this proposal. since i came to congress, we'll talk about a balanced budget. i was one of the few and still remaining that actually voted to balance the budget, and we did balance the budget. to go back when the republicans took over in 1995, it took us a couple years. basically, 1997 -- actually, the debate on the floor of the house a week before september 11, with $150 billion surplus that year. so it can be done. you have to have restraint. we don't have to close down everything, but we can consolidate. my experience in government is you probably cannot find a single agency that cannot do the job better and save money. this proposal is the beginning. host: a story this morning
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talking about concerns and the market over what's going to happen with the debt limit. how concerned about the issue are you? guest: my background is in this. the u.s.'s part of the world market now. people judge us on our credit disliked they judge to individuals. if you don't pay your bills, things stop in a hurry. it takes a little longer for countries that have not been responsible. we have seen greece and other countries in turmoil right now. that's because of their credit worthiness. the u.s. has to stand up, find a way to pay its bills, live within its means, and irresponsible. that's our job as elected officials and the congress has not been doing x. host: a poll yesterday shows 71% of americans disapprove of the way republicans have conducted themselves in the debt talks.
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guest: i saw that. i am wondering, because by both sides some folks want to do things a little differently. i go back -- when we were debating the last round of cuts, just getting us through this fiscal year, blowback and talk to some of my folks and they say we're looking at $30 billion to $100 billion in cuts and then you would describe that we have racked up $4.50 trillion in deficit spending, spending more than we are taking in, people would say you are just taking pinking shears around the edges. i don't think a lot of the republicans are happy with what we are doing and would like us to do more. host: and on twitter --
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looking at a philosophical approach of the bill versus what senator coburn put on the table yesterday, 600 pages in his plan on how to cut $9 trillion? guest: i would probably not been more toward tom coburn plan. the first thing is it would stop some of the spending. the other thing is every agency and activity of government, we need to go back and look at how we are spending. we can do a much better job across-the-board. i am chairman of the one -- of one of the larger committees, transportation. i have tried to look at what we have been doing? and, with a whole new way of approaching the way we spend taxpayer money. our committee has been forced to spend more than we are taking in four revenues that we get and most of ours is based on gas tax and fuel taxes and fees that
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come into a trust fund. we have been spending the trust fund out and we are forcing more government spending, borrowing money. again, everything in this step is expanding its 43 cents on the dollar that we are borrowing, getting ourselves into hock with other nations and passing the data onto our children. host: we have john mica, a republican in his 10th term in the u.s. house, as chairman of the transportation infrastructure committee. you can call with your questions related to transportation issues, and the big debate going on in washington over the debt limit, some of the proposals on the table. here are the numbers to call -- let's go to sue, a democratic
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caller from florida. caller: good morning. thank you for c-span. delray beach is one of my favorites. guest: that's part of my district. my brother was a democrat in your area for 10 years. we have had different political parties. good to hear from new this morning. caller: thank you. i did look at your voting record. you did vote against cuts and you voted for the bush war which we have to pay for. you also voted for the bush tax cuts, but when it came to extending them just to the middle class, you said no. i don't mind a balanced budget amendment, but not when the economy is the way it is. i did work for the school board.
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i got employees of the year and then i got laid off because i am new to the system. i believe we need to balance the budget. the way my family does it, my husband works two jobs. i will be working again soon. i make much less than $250,000. i wish all the tax cuts would expire. we don't everybody calling in complaining that we owe all this money -- we do not. the majority of the debt is owed to the american taxpayer. if you are going to cut, you are taking their tax money and cutting what they pay in four. we pay for social security and medicare. i do not mind my money going to education. i do not mind my money going to science. what i do mind is having my tax
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dollars pay for shipping jobs overseas. guest: i think you make some good points. you covered a lot of ground. first of all, on the tax incentives for business -- i strongly believe that that is one of the things that the government can do to bring jobs to the united states. paul ryan and i sometimes go round and round -- he has a 25% corporate tax rate. i prefer 12.5%. if you want to attract business, look at states and countries and businesses it -- i would zero out any taxes on manufacturing in the united states. i believe in giving incentives to those who would create jobs. it is hard for someone who
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makes an hourly wage to pay taxes, and there are 40% of the people who do not pay taxes in the united states. you have to have capital in a capitalist society to create jobs and you have to attract the business to the united states. yes, i would continue to vote for those kinds of tax incentives to create jobs. the other thing, too, is the cut in cap and trade does try to bring spending as a percentage of the gdp in some reasonable range. the balanced budget amendment is 18%. 18% of our gdp is enough to be spending on government. you do not want people to be hurt who have paid into the system. i think there are some measures to protect.
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first of all, the military, our veterans, social security recipients, and even medicare folks. it is done with some caution. would i write it the same? maybe not. i think it is a good beginning point to get discussion and debate. everybody knows washington operates under -- that is how we have been that way of. they wait until the last minute whether it is back in the beginning of the republic or today. i believe the earlier caller said -- this is from the riscussion in our forum >> we are going to b tthatway from "washington journal" with reminder you can watch it online in our video library. we will take you live to the breaking them at the white house. we'll hear from jay carney but we understand that president obama will be making a few
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comments, possibly taking questions as well at the start of the briefing. it's going to get underway in just a few minutes. the house is underway with debate on the debt and deficit reduction bill, the so-called cut, cap and balance bill, a bill that includes a constitutional amendment, a balanced budget amendment. there are four hours of general debate ahead in the house this afternoon. that's underway now. you can follow that debate now on our companion network c-span. here on c-span2 we'll bring you the news conference and then back to this end at 2:15 eastern as they begin debate as they continue debate on the first appropriations bill of the term that they have considered the military construction and veterans affairs bill for fiscal year 2012. the senate is back at 2:15 eastern and we'll have that live for you as well. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] hello everybody. i want to give folks a quick update on the progress we're making on the debt ceiling discussions. i was in contact with all the leadership over the course of the weekend. and continue to urge both democrats and republicans to come together around an approach that not only lives the debt ceiling but also solves the underlying challenge we face when it comes to debt and deficit. some progress was made in some of the discussions. some narrowing of the issues.
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speaker boehner and the republicans house caucus felt it necessary to put forward a plan that they will be voting on today. i think everyone's estimation is that that is not an approach that could pass both chambers. is not an approach i would sign and it is not balanced. but i understand the need for them to test that proposition. the problem we have now is where in the 11th hour and we don't have a lot more time left. the good news is that today a group of senators, the gang of six, democrats and republicans, i guess now gain of seven because one additional republican senator added on, put forward a proposal that is broadly consistent with the approach that i have urged. what it says is we've got to be serious about reducing discretionary spending, both in domestic spending and defense. we've got to be serious about
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tackling health care spending, and entitlements in a serious way. and we've got to have some additional revenue. so that we have an approach in which there is shared sacrifice, and everybody is giving up something. and so for us to see democratic senators acknowledge that we've got to do with our long-term debt problems that arise out of our various entitlement programs, and for republican senators to acknowledge that revenues will have to be part of a balanced package that make sure that nobody is disproportionately hurt from us making progress on the debt and deficits. i think it is a very significant step, and as i said, the framework they put forward is broadly consistent with what we have been working on here in the white house, and with the presentations that i've made to the leadership when they have come over here. so, here's where we stand.
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we have a democratic president and administration that is prepared to sign a tough package that includes both spending cu cuts, modifications to social security, medicaid, and medicare that would strengthen those systems and allow them to move forward. and would include a revenue component. we now have a bipartisan group of senators who agree with a balanced approach. and we've got the american people who agreed with a balanced approach. my hope and what i will be urging speaker boehner, nancy pelosi, as well as leader reid and mitch mcconnell is that day, tomorrow, are prepared to start talking turkey and actually getting down to the hard business of crafting a plan that can move this forward in time for the august 2 deadline
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that we have set forward. just a couple other points i will make. some of you may ask what does that mean for the planet senator mcconnell and senator reid had been working on. our attitude is that that continues to be a necessary approach to put forward. in the event that we don't get agreement, at minimum we've got to raise the debt ceiling. so that's the bare minimum that has to be achieved, but we continue to believe that we can achieve more. and so, i want to congratulate the gang of six, for coming up with a plan that i think is balanced. we just received it so we haven't reviewed all the details of it. it would not match perfectly with some of the approaches we have taken, but i think we're in the same playing field. my hope is we can start gathering everybody over the next couple of days to choose a
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clear direction, and to get this issue resolved. so far at least the markets have shown confidence that leadership here in washington are not going to send it economy over a cliff. but if we continue to go through a lot of political posturing, if both sides continue to be dug in, if we don't have a basic spirit of cooperation and allowed us to rise above an election-year politics and ask resolve problems, then i think markets here, the american people, and the international committee are going to start reacting adversely fairly quickly. so i think it's very important in these next couple of days to understand we don't have anymore time to engage in symbolic gestures. we don't have anymore time to posture. it's time to get down to the business of actually solving
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this problem, and i think we now are seeing the potential for a bipartisan consensus around what that would take. it will be hard. it will be tough. there's still going to be a lot of difficult negotiations that have to take place in order for us to actually get something done. and as i said we have to have that failsafe that senator mcconnell and senator reid are working on. the hope is that everybody sees -- seizes this opportunity. all right? i am going to let j. answer questions today. i think i've been pretty good to you guys. but after the votes today and house i will come speaker been leadership and we'll arrange for times when we bring folks back here, and hopefully we'll be able to report on some additional progress over the next few days. all right? thanks very much, guys? [inaudible] >> as i said what you will be seeing is an evaluation of that plan versus the things that
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we've been looking at. i think what you see is some significant overlap. but obviously just because we might agree in principle with a range of issues, with six senators, or seven senators, that doesn't get us out of the house of representatives. that doesn't get us out of the senate. there's going to be a broader agreement on the part of all the leadership that we will get this done in a serious way, and we've got a tight deadline to do it. all right? all right, guys. >> okay. hold on one second. [laughter] >> i hope you enjoyed the warm-up act.
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that's probably bad, right? i do have -- [laughter] [inaudible] i do have a readout of the president's call to general john allen today. the president called general john allen today to congratulate him on his promotion to the rank of general, on his fourth start, and his assumption of command of the nato international security assistance force, isaf, and u.s. forces afghanistan. the president expressed his full confidence in general allen as he begins this important assignment and that he said he looks forward to working closely with him. and with that i will take your questions. >> i want to follow-up on something the president said. he claimed to call speaker boehner and the other leaders after the house vote to resume meetings here, is that right? should we respect resumption a daily meeting?
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>> no, i think the president will call speaker boehner, based on what he said. he will call the leaders and arrange for a time for a meeting to happen here at the white house. is not a series of meetings budget sometime in the next few days. >> he also made note at the end there that is in progress or agreement with the concept of six or seven senators, how is the white house expects what this again is think to have an impact on the house republican? >> the news from the gang of six/seven italy a significant because it dramatized and reinforces the fact that the only way to deal a significant deficit reduction bill is to do it in a balanced way. this is now the approach that was taken by the simpson-bowles commission. a bipartisan commission. also bipartisan. the approach the president put forward. it is the approach that
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supported broadly by the neck and people, even by a majority of republicans, and it is now an approach that has been put forward any substantial way and a substantive way by elected members on both parties in the senate. so again, the specifics are, i'm sure not exact in terms of overlapping any more than any of these, the four proposals that i've talked about, overlap exactly. but the overall approach here is one that is now endorsed, really broadly by republicans and democrats. we see that more and more with some elected republican officials in washington endorsing rather a balanced approach. we see it from non-elected republicans, former administration officials, former elected republicans come as well as democrats. abounds approach requires a willingness, when you're a democrat or republican, to compromise. to do things you wouldn't or don't want to have to do in order for the sake of a bigger
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deal. so that's true both republicans and democrats picked the significance here is that there's some momentum behind the idea, the approach the president has been supporting all along, and he believes reinforces what he has been saying both publicly and privately in his discussions with republican leaders and democratic leaders, and that is that this is an opportunity to do something big. and that whatever we do, even if it's a failsafe fallback last option crafted by senator mcconnell, it will be hard. the votes won't come easy. as long as that is the case let's do something significant that address is not just the immediate need to raise the debt ceiling, but addresses in many ways more serious need to get our deficit and debt under control so that we are on solid economic footing as we compete for jobs in the 21st century. >> is the present making calls
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to individual lawmakers to persuade their view, if the republicans have expressed -- object or democrats who are reluctant to go along? >> the president said from here just moments ago he is been in contact with members of the leadership. i don't have any other conversations to read out to you. our views are well known, stated by him and by me and by others, in terms of the approach we should take and the approach is -- so beyond that i'm not aware of the any communications of that nature. >> the president and you have mentioned a message of backup mcconnell plan. [inaudible] they would still downgrade the u.s. is that threat from the white house, is that the plain? >> what the ratings agencies do
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is, you know, i can't address. that's for them to assess. in fact is that we have said that simply raising the debt ceiling is not enough. we need to get our deficit and debt under control. we should do something big that sends a signal around the country and the globe that washington works and washington elected officials in washington from both parties can come together and do things that will improve our economic standing. so that's certainly what the president believes. and he certainly believes we are in this unique situation created by a confluence of events that include the state of the economy, the deficit, the debt, all the bills run up in the previous decade, the additional spending is necessary to prevent a depression, the makeup of the
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house and senate, this president, public opinion. these things, all these factors have come together, converse together to create an opportunity to do something significant, where if you have in this case a presently to compromise and a president willing to make tough choices, and willing to urge fellow democrats to do the same. he is looking for partners in the republican party, willing to do that. and again referring to the gang of six, and their proposal, he is seeing evidence that there are republicans willing to do that. >> it sounds like the rating agencies really -- so the question is is the mcconnell plan really a backup if it causes a downgrade? >> without addressing the ratings agencies i can say that, it's important to remember, and the president made clear we are
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pursuing several tracks here. one of them very much is the proposal outlined by senator mcconnell because it has to be there as an option to assure that we do not get into a situation where we can no longer bar and risk default. the other options including going big for a significant bipartisan field is balanced remains, you know, over pressing. we've never suggested the mcconnell option in the end is preferred our optimum, or would resolve these big problems that we face. and we would have to continue to address those issues going forward is in the end that's all we get out of this process spent do you have any sense of -- [inaudible] >> there are folks with a better sense of what the house will support than i have it and i would certainly stop first at the office of the house
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republican and house democratic leadership. we make our case. we believe that leadership in both houses shares our view that default is not an option, that allowing our capacity to borrow money and is not an option, and that will not happen. in the end we will maintain the full faith and credit of the trendy. meanwhile, we hope we can do something even more significant. >> do you think it's a fair criticism at all of the present and the white house that there has not been a plan presented from him on paper to the american people that they can judge themselves? the houses voted on a plan as i understand it. you don't like it, but it is on paper. people can judge it. >> the president put forth a budget. the president put forward a
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framework. the president has made clear in his negotiations with congressional leadership exactly and in great detail what a grand bargain if you will would look like and the steps you be willing to take on the measures he would be willing to support to make that happen. and -- [talking over each other] the suggesting he also came to an agreement with congress for funding fiscal year nine 9/11 -- sorry, 2011, that represented substantial historic cuts in spending. the fact is that any assertion that the president has not been specific and members of congress have been in the room don't know what this administration, this president is willing to do, but it stands on the call by republicans or something to put forward. our argument is, what we're willing to do is clear.
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he has spoken about it as recently as last week with you in general terms about what we are discussing. the parameters of what this looks like are not very complicated. and calls for plans and symbolic votes and that sort of thing our efforts to slow the process at the point where we don't have a lot of time. its grill or dust as i said in the past. there is no mr. year about what we need to do and what a bipartisan balanced approach would look like and what it would require of all parties. there are no substantial plans that near the bipartisan balanced approach that are on the table in great detail. and again, the president's framework and the conversations he has had with leaders. >> you have -- >> that's a long winded way of saying no, i don't agree with the criticism. [inaudible] >> would never pass the senate. and the president has said he would veto. the senate is passing -- the
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mcconnell, the gang of seven plan, it's not clear that can pass the house. what is not be an opportune time for a president to lead and say this -- >> leadership is not proposing a plan for the sake of having it voted up or down and likely voted down because look, you know how this can works and how congress works. if an individual, whether democrat or republican leader steps forward and says this is my plan, and solely my plan, it makes it a lot harder for the plan to be the basis for a bipartisan compromise. the way to reach a bipartisan compromise, bipartisan negotiations where a plan he merges that is the product of that negotiation and is supported by republicans and democrats. and then presented. otherwise your chances of actually achieving something diminished greatly. i think there certainly plenty of history to support that idea.
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and that's the approach, and this is what president and others have talked about. bob dole, former senator dole talked about it. the way these things work is yet to get in the vote together so the boat doesn't tip over. that's the approach the president has taken. he wants to get a deal that the american people can support. >> every kind of been specifics on the table the president has not gotten with the boat. >> we can argue about this or you could have me on and we can talk about this. the president has been very clear about what he's going to do. the way that prison has approach these negotiations has been designed precisely to achieve a result and not to achieve political points. [inaudible] speak we are closer now than we have ever been. >> does the president talk about being prepared to make tough choices. was he not taken a posture early on as negotiations, was he not willing early on to make these
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tough choices now because -- >> quite the opposite. since the beginning of these negotiations and prior, when he put together his framework. he's been calling for a balanced bipartisan approach. and once the negotiations with eight members of congress began and then separately in conversation with mary sues conversations the president had with the speaker of the house he was quite clear about the kind of, the kind of tough choices you going to make. >> medicare, medicaid, social security, all of those were early on parts of the toys under tough choices he willing to make? >> certainly in the conversations he had with the speaker and in the presentation, his position, the administration position he has been clear all along that he is willing to deal with entitlement spending in a way that strengthens those programs for the future, yes. >> in terms of -- is comfortable with all of that plan, what is
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the plan, to reach out to lawmakers beyond just the six or the seven? >> i don't want to get ahead of were gone. obviously the houses going through an ever today. once they get to we can turn our attention back to negotiations that could lead to something that could actually emerge from congress and the president sign into law. this is a fluid situation so i can't, i know there's a lot of interest in schedules and meetings that might happen or might not happen, when the president may or may not speak, and i confess to you that we don't have specifics for that because we don't know yet. it depends on how these negotiations and talks unfold. >> so, is the president's plan now, the gang of a six-point six plain? >> no. let's be clear. as the president still appear and said moments ago we just saw, we have just begun to get the details of the plan.
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the point the president want to make was a gang of six, now seven, has put forward a proposal that broadly mirrors the approach that the president supports, that simpson-bowles support, that other support. and that is very helpful in making the point, in making the case that a balanced approach for the only way to get significant deficit reduction. and to do it in a way that does not require undue sacrifice of any one segment of society come to seniors or parents of disabled children, for example. so that we will review the details of the gang of six proposal and will compare them to the president's approach to other approaches out there. anything that might emerge if, in fact, we're able to do something significant would probably, would be a negotiated settlement, would be something that emerges from the
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negotiations between the president and the leadership of congress. so, the point is that they represent something very significant which is that public opinion is now demonstrably in support of a balanced approach. republican opinion is -- there are numerous, former republican officials, administration officials, elected officials to endorse a balanced approach. democrats out there both in congress and performers who support a balanced approach, support the idea that democrats need to make tough choices and accept compromises that they wouldn't only want to accept is that really is the only way if we want to do something significant. meanwhile, we have to assure that the process, that the train keeps moving along the tracks would allow for a fallback option to be ready and in place it in the and what we have to move forward with because we have been able to reach a couple mice on something bigger. because obviously the absolute
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imperative is congress takes action so that we do not get to august 2 without having raise the debt ceiling spent. [inaudible] speaker ban would going to go along? >> speaker boehner can speak for himself ibc, but the fact is the president was involved with negotiation, conversations with speaker boehner. he has brought this up in the larger meetings that were held here in the cabinet room, and i'm sure we will continue to, as there are conversations of meetings in the future. the point is that none of this is easy. we've seen a lot of stated opposition from the caucus to the mcconnell proposal. so any suggestion that the failsafe option can somehow sail through and is really the easy way out doesn't seem to hold up to scrutiny. so the presidents are you has
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been since none of this is easy, let's go ahead since we will have to do a hard thing, let's do something big if we're all going to have to suffer -- suffer a little political painter, let's to subject american people will be proud of, they can say my goodness, we had begun to lose faith but it turns out washington when pressed can work on behalf of the american people. republicans and democrats can come together and compromise and do something historic that really could be a game changer in terms of addressing this significant issue of our current deficits and debt problem. >> a freshman republican came to the white house today stood outside event and accused the president of the spirit -- would have to be cut if we don't raise the debt ceiling and time. can reasonable minds at this late date still disagree about that, or do they just not understand the nature of the
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debt ceiling? >> i would see the point them to the vast array of voices who argue the opposite, that this is a real deadline, that the fact of the matter is, august 2 the united states, if we do not take action, will not be able to borrow money. which means that for every dollar they get into bill, for dollar they get into bill they have 60 cents in the pocket to pay. therefore, choices have to be made. some people say just pay the holders of debt, pay the chinese. pay everybody else who has treasury bonds and forestall the default. there's a limited amount of money and something gets unpaid and it could be social security benefits, veterans benefits or any of the other obligations that the federal government has. there is no way around it. >> can you compromise within 40 have to move into the side? >> do you have any evidence of a link to compromise?
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the fact is, we take great heart from the statement of leaders, of both parties in both houses, who have made clear that default is not an acceptable option and will not happen, and congress will act accordingly. >> members have signed -- can you compromise with them? >> what i would say is the american people, there was a gallup poll today i think that said that most, an overwhelming percentage of americans, even those with strongly held views one way or the other on this issue do not want their elected representatives to hold out and do nothing if they don't get exactly what they want. that they expect their members, their elected officials to
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compromise. to do the right thing. and that is the approach we should all take. that is not -- [inaudible] >> well, there's a fascinating debate going on about the usefulness of pledges, but beyond that i think, i think senator coburn said in one of the newspapers this morning, made a good point about, that holding out and refusing to eliminate corporate loopholes that provide special interest subsidies to certain industries, or manufacturers of purchasers of corporate jets, hardly seems like a stand on principle, if your stand is that taxes should not go up on average americans because that is certainly not what the president is proposing. this president has reduced taxes on middle income americans, consistently since he came into office and is proposing that we extend the payroll tax cut for
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everyone who pays payroll taxes into another year. so, i think that members of congress have to make a choice about what, you know, what line they want to draw in the sand and for what purpose and whose interests they are serving by doing it, and the interests that need to be searched or other brought inches of the american public. and those interests are best served if congress, working with this president, takes a balanced approach. >> lamar alexander, number seven of the gang of seven? >> i think there are reports about this but i direct back to congress. >> i mean, i'm just, based on what i have seen. [inaudible] >> is there no such thing as the social security trust fund by the way? is that what we've learned speak of is that a question? >> i'm just -- >> does it not really exist? it's just some accounting deal?
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>> this is probably for experts beyond my -- [inaudible] doesn't that imply there really is -- >> the trust fund i think the whole debt, you know, so at some point, you know, all the obligations have to be paid and they're more obligations than there are dollars to pay them. so something has to give. if this were ever to come to pass. we don't believe it will be. >> and on this legislation, who is going to propose? again at six, not one of them is a member of the leadership. [inaudible] you didn't seem to be having the people in the room that were in the mood to compromise. >> well, i can't -- i can't to you because i don't know who exactly will be invited, the next me that might happen at the white house but you can't do this without the leadership. obviously, --
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[inaudible] >> other members have played a significant and important role here, specifically the members of the gang of six with regard to what the president talked about earlier, but in the end you need to move something through congress through both houses. you need to work with leadership to do that and so that's what the president met some a times with the leadership last week and what he will meet with him again. >> the argument is that some were making about this issue of default, this distrust babbled wall street, what do you say to the americans -- wall street has been full of it for a decade? >> this isn't an issue. i understand skepticism. the fact is that this is a question of wall street reacting to something that it's not controlling, and it's reacting to wall street and markets around go to a situation that would come to pass where the united states no longer has the
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capacity to borrow money, which could put the u.s. in default. so that anticipation of that could affect market. and if it were to pass it would affect interest rates. the ripple effect, the impact of that would go on and on and on and affect every american who hold a mortgage or has to pay down credit card debt. so, and then the ripple effects would continue. it's not an issue of financial markets making up something, or, you know, this is a reality that would come to pass. >> republican leaders explain the skepticism that they hear when they try to -- [inaudible] >> i don't want, without putting words in their mouths, i think we'll have a general understanding about how unappealing it is to raise the debt ceiling. in part because it is a somewhat misunderstood vote that members of congress have to cast.
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it is not a vote for more spending. it is a vote to pay the bills of spending previously agreed upon by congress. but that's hard to explain. and it's one of those votes that members of carbs don't look for to having to take. it is however a vote that as i point out in the past members of congress have taken numerous times can't including the leadership that met with the president of both parties. and the resistance to this stems from a legitimate concern about the need to get our deficit under control, the need to reduce spending, they need to address our long-term debt. however, it is cutting off -- is refusing to raise the debt ceiling, consigning the economy, potentially to another recession. certainly to reducing growth and job creation, you know, to the
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kinds of eventuality that would precisely, would do the most damage to the cause of creating jobs and growing the economy. so in the end this is all about hypotheticals because we believe very strongly that congress will take the action necessary. >> the president said he made the point that a democratic president -- [inaudible] and the american people support what he describes as a balanced approach. was this an attempt to isolate the house republican? >> no, it was two hours, cajole, persuade members of congress of both parties. let's be clear, there are democrats who don't relish the idea of making the kind of compromises that would be necessary here for them to make. but it was to point out to members of both parties yes, republicans but also democrats,
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that the public expects the representatives in washington to compromise. in this case to do with a long-term deficit and debt problems we have come in a balanced way that spreads the sacrifice, spreads the burden so that seniors, others who are vulnerable in our society, don't have to bear the brunt, bear the cost of the measures we need to take to get our deficit under control. [inaudible] >> well, i think as he pointed out we're just getting the details of the plan. so throughout this period of months that have been periodic conversations that have been had from members of the administration with senators who make up that group. and as you know the president is filled with senator coburn, but on the specifics of this proposal i think we are looking at him now.
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>> within the last week or so? >> i don't know that for sure, but it's entirely possible because they speak every once in a while. >> you said a minute ago that americans expect their representatives to compromise. not all constituents want their representatives to compromise. many constituents say we elected you not to raise spending, not to raise the debt limit. we expect you to abide by that. >> right. i sort of wasn't suggesting that every american felt that way, just the majority feel that way. i think that is reflected in some of the polling data that we have seen recently. >> has there been any outreach today with members of the gang of seven? >> i think that's similar to carol's question. unit at the presidential level? or at any level, i'm not sure. i think it's possible but i don't know. we are just getting, just return the details of their proposal so i don't know if there has been conversation. i don't think the president has spoken to any members of the
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gang of seven but i can check that. the details are just we are reviewing now. >> the president warned that we're in the 11th hour and -- marketeer around the world will be acting adversely. you suggested americans don't have anything to worry about when it comes to whether or not the debt ceiling will be raised. so, what level of certainty does this administration have that come august 2 the debt ceiling will be raised? >> as the president and as i said, we remain highly confident that congress will act to ensure that we retain, the united states government, our capacity to retain money after august 2. the question now is what measures to take to get there. do we do something relatively small? to ensure that we do that, or do we do something bigger? do we just deal with the issue, they need to raise the debt
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thing or do we deal with the bigger problems here and address our deficits and debt? the president support doing as much as possible, trying to reach an agreement on the biggest deal possible, and the biggest deal or a big deal requires balance. requires an approach that reduces spending and nondefense discretionary which is defense spending, pirate entitlements, and spending -- that option remains on the table and is reinforced by the approach taken and announced today by the transit. >> the administration is saying that congress will get its act together and it will be raised. then why should the markets react adversely? >> well, as the president they have not yet. they have demonstrated a fair amount of confidence that congress will act, and that it confidence that we think is merited. obviously, you know, we have to
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move through the next several days to get to that point and make sure that it happens, but we believe it will happen. >> the president said there some part of the transit proposal that doesn't line up with what the white house would like. what is he referring to? >> again, we're just getting the specifics. >> is there something in at the white house doesn't -- >> we are just reviewing it. my understanding from a very cursory reading is that there's some similarities and some differences. everybody, the approach is precisely, precisely mirrors the approach the president took, the approach the simpson-bowles commission took. in its particulars it may not and it may not overlap precisely what our approach. and what i said in answer to an earlier question is what has to emerge is a balanced package
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that everyone can agree to it in the leadership of negotiators participate in this and then sell at two members of congress. so it's unlikely to look in exact form, and it's precisely any of the different proposals. but we have to get toward the creek to see if that is possible. and as we see if that's possible we are to make sure that we continue to work on the fallback option. >> what's the current drop, at one point the white house said this friday july twenty-second there have to be a date for -- >> it really is a groundhog day here. let me be clear about, for has to be done 12th time. at july 20 is an estimation based on a general understanding of how congress works in the time it needs to move legislation through, and if you have something move through the senate, into the house and it has to be reconciled and voted on again, it is not a precise
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date. what we have to have this week is significant, very clear progress when we know where we are going and where close to getting dense pack i guess what i'm saying is we all know washington likes to go right up to the deadline. a white house isn't in a specific concrete deadline. where is washington for -- >> understand why they would need to do to assure that action is taken and a law is signed by the president prior to augus august second. because it's hard, you would always have people -- what we know is a hard deadline is august 2. that is driven by numbers, analyzed by experts at the treasury department. beyond that your making estimates about how fast congress can act and how it will react, 535 minutes of congress through a process that is never
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precise, not the, you know, central committee of the congress party. this is the united states congress and each individual has a voice and has a vote. it's hard to anticipate in every detail how this thing will play out. you cannot be exact about how much time you need because he can't predict the future. >> you continue to say you're just getting the details of the gang of six plan. could you explain how you respond to that plan once you digest it? do you intend to come tomorrow and see this is the part of the plant we agree with? >> i don't anticipate -- i don't how we will react to that as the president made clear support the approach. it's entirely likely that not every specific will be exactly the way we would do it or exactly the way simpson-bowles would do it or domenici-rivlin
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or exactly the way a bipartisan balanced compromise would look if it emerge from these negotiations. but the general approach is something we endorse, and we welcome the role that it is playing in making clear that that's the way we have to go if you want to do something big. peter? >> thanks, jay. the president just discussed general support for the framework -- >> you can see the briefing online at c-span.org. the u.s. senate coming back in to resume debate on the fiscal year 2012 spending bill for military construction and veterans affairs. "congressional quarterly" rights that there might be votes this afternoon on germane amendments, to punish aren't in cemetery for sloppy record-keeping and ms. bair caskets. the "cq" says center read is pushing for passage of this bill, the spending bill tomorrow. let's take you live now to the senate floor here on c-span2.
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mr. johnson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 2055, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 91, h.r. 2055, an act making appropriations for military construction, the department of veterans affairs and related agencies for the fiscal year
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ending september 30, 2012, and for other purposes. mr. johnson: mr. president, as we begin our third day of debate on the appropriations bill, i would like to encourage my colleagues to file amendments they may have as soon as possible, as we would like to begin disposing of amendments in short order. while we are waiting, i'd like to take a few moments to talk about the v.a. portion of the bill. the bill totals $58.6 billion in discretionary spending with the v.a. in f.y. 2012. additionally, the bill contains contains $52.5 billion in advance appropriations for health care for our vets. one of the few increases above
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the budget request contained in this bill is for v.a. medical research. as every senator knows, unique combat situations in afghanistan and iraq have left many vets suffering significant injuries, including ptsd and t.p.i. we have a moral responsibility to take care of those who have put their lives on the line to defend our nation and it would be shortsighted to cut funding for critical research designed to improve medical outcomes from injuries suffered on the battlefield. over the last several years, tremendous progress has been made by the department in reducing the number of homeless vets. according to the v.a., in 2005, an estimated 195,000 vets experienced homelessness on any given night. today that figure is down to
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75,600. progress is being made and this bill continues those efforts. the bill also includes funding for the v.a. to transform from a department heavily dependent on paper to a modern agency that leverages technology to shorten the time vets have to wait for services. the funds contained in this bill are necessary for the v.a. to deploy its automateed claims processing system on time. there are only a few parts of the v.a. title, the milcon v.a. appropriations bill. as i have mentioned from the outset, this bill is a result of a bipartisan effort. again, i urge my colleagues to file any amendments they may have so that we can continue to make progress in moving this bill toward final passage. i yield the floor and note the
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absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. johnson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be
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rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. johnson: i ask unanimous consent that senator collins be added as a cosponsor to amendment number 556. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. johnson: i note an absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. webb: mr. president, first i would like to express my -- the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. webb: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. webb: mr. president, i would like to begin -- rebegin by expressing my appreciation for the remarks the senator from
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south dakota made about the need to help our veterans, particularly those that have been serving in these recent endeavors. i would like to express my personal appreciation once again for the service that his own son has given this country during this period and to the service of the senator from illinois, who is the ranking republican on this bill, and also to my own son for having served as an enlisted marine and infantryman in ramadi, iraq, in some of the worst fighting during that war. i rise today to discuss two amendments that senator warner and i have filed to this particular bill. each relates to the navy's proposal to home port a nuclear weapon aircraft carrier by 2019. one would eliminate funding for nearly $15 million of a military project, a four-lane divided highway. the navy describes this as a first in a series of what will be increasingly expensive
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projects required to enable the navy to create a second home port for aircraft carriers on the east coast. the second amendment would eliminate approximately $15 million for architectural planning and design services for a number of follow-on military construction projects at mayport tide, again to carrier home porting. mr. president, this is a sphreupry slope. the -- slippery slope. the navy says it will cost more than $500 million in onetime costs to home port a nuclear-powered aircraft calfier in mayport. other recurring costs would push the expense much higher. in fact, there are estimates that this cost could achieve more than $1 billion by the end of this decade. the reason for filing this amendment is straightforward. we owe it to the american taxpayers. and we also owe it to the integrity of our d.o.d. budget process. the department of defense has been directed to achieve reductions in defense spending
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totaling hundreds of billions of dollars. no part that have budget should be off limits, especially a duplicative, redundant project like the navy's carrier home porting plan for mayport. i would like to make it clear at the outset that this is not a virginia versus florida issue although there are strong political implications in both virginia and florida for this move. i have been involved with the naval service since i was 17 years old and i will continue to be involved long after i'm involved as a united states senator here in the senate. i support the navy's requirement to sustain the naval station at mayport in some fashion, but speaking as a former secretary of the navy, i'd like to point out that there are other ways to get there. i question the fiscal responsibility and the strategic
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necessity to home port an aircraft carrier in mayport when less expensive home porting alternatives do exist. these amendments are directed toward necessary congressional oversight. the g.a.o. has initiated an independent analysis of alternatives. its assessment will be completed next spring. before we commit to a plan to build expensive, redundant nuclear-supported infrastructure on the east coast with long-term spending implications our views on the navy's proposal should be informed by this g.a.o. study. and let me explain my hesitations about this project. first, the navy is proposing to expand a facility at the same time the size of its fleet is radically declined. this chart, mr. president, shows the size of u.s. navy active ship force vessels levels from
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1970 until today. in 19700 the united states had 743 active ships. today they have 284 deployable battle force ships. it's rather ironic as i stand here today because when i was secretary of navy in the late 1980's, the navy had exactly twice as many combatants as it does today, 568 combatants. it is only logical that the navy's shore footprint should reflect this reality. the navy's plan to build a large duplicative facility for aircraft carriers in mayport contradicts this logic. in 1970, with 19 aircraft carriers, which is this line, mr. president, the historical trend on aircraft carriers, the navy home ported them in six locations. as the number of aircraft carriers has declined from 19 to 11 today, the number of their
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home ports has held fairly constant. there are now 56789 when we had 19 -- there are now 56789 when we had 19, they home ported them in six locations. today with 11 aircraft carriers and one at risk which i will speak to in a minute, we have five. the navy has upgraded its facilities at home ports on the west coast and in japan as well as our east coast home port in norfolk to accommodate today's all-nuclear carrier fleet. with a fleet less than half the size of what it was in 19700, almost a third of the size of what it was in 1970, it is almost logical we don't require the same number of shore facilities to support it. quite frankly, if i had $1 billion to spend, i think i would buy a couple ships with it and try to get the navy up to its stated goal, which i support, of 313 combatants. there are issues of fiscal
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responsibility. where the navy puts its money. over the past five years the navy has validated unfunded requirements -- validated unfunded requirements of more than $50 billion across its operations, military construction, modernization and acquisition programs. i believe that is more fiscally responsible for the navy to reduce these unfunded requirements than it would be for them to build a redundant facility. from fiscal year 2008 through 2012, the navy reported unfunded priorities -- these are priorities -- totaling $11.8 billion. those cover shipbuilding, aircraft, aviation and ship maintenance and other programs all for current and future readiness needs. their backlog in critical modernization repair projects at the four naval shipyards increased to $3.5 billion in
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fiscal year 2010 as a result of inadequate investment. the navy acknowledges that the growing risk for shipboard operations is a major concern. overall, the navy shore-wide modernization backlog grew to $39.2 billion last year. simply stated, the navy needs to do a better job of managing its existing facility. so i ask my colleagues, how can we be sympathetic to navy requests for additional funding to cover such shortfalls when it wants to put up to $1 billion in an ill-advised and duplicative carrier home porting project in mayport? there's been much discussion about the strategic justification, strategic ramifications of only having one nuclear aircraft home port on the east coast. let me talk about that. first, the navy says that the new home port is neither to mitigate the risk of a terrorist attack, accident or natural disaster at the current home
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porting facility in norfolk. however, every navy risk assessment states that is low risk of such events occurring in the hampton roads region. alternate maintenance facilities for a facility exists at a private shipyard in newport news. last year i supported projects at mayport to cover this possibility as well. to dredge its channel and to modernize a pier so a carrier could make a routine port visit there and in the unlikely event that operations in norfolk were interrupted so that a carrier could use mayport in an emergency. there has been some talk about the need for strategic disbursal. i recognize that concept. there have been photographs of pearl harbor with carrier row, battleship row and ships bunched
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together and how the japanese aircraft were table to knock them out in 1941. and there was justification for the navy's concept of dispersal during the cold war. but even then, many critics from g.a.o. were faulting the navy at a time when i was in the pentagon for lack of a focused threat assessment to justify what some people were calling strategic home poring, putting them -- poring -- porking. today's threats are entirely different. i would make the ironic note that tkeus bursal has occurred through reduction. the united states navy today is one half the size it was when i was secretary of navy when we had 568 combatants. a certain amount of disbursal has occurred by the dwindling size of the navy.
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the second point is a convention type of pearl harbor is unlikely to happen. secretary panetta mentioned in june the next pearl harbor we could confront would be a cyberattack that cripples our financial systems and our governmental systems. i do not minimize the need to protect our fleet from any sort of attack. we have done an extraordinarily good job of that in the norfolk area with high-tech defensive systems. this is not the same type of situation when people have talked about what happened at pearl harbor in 1941. another point is that less expensive home porting operations do exist. our navy's own studies identify other less expensive options to sustain the facility at mayport, and i do believe that sustaining
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mayport as a navy town is very important to the interest of our country and to that region. it's an important naval base. but we have a clear responsibility to find more cost-effective, more strategicically responsible ways to do that. again, if i had $1 billion, i would put it in two ships. if i were looking for the right kind of ship to go to mayport florida, i would like for amphibs and smaller ships so you don't have to build nuclear facilities that are redundant. i must also note that pressures to reduce the navy budget are getting worse. last week marine corps general james cartwright, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, highlighted this challenge saying the defense department is -- quote -- "looking at all options to reduce its budget by $400 billion in the next ten years." general cartwright then confirmed the navy was considering options such as delaying the construction of a
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nuclear powered aircraft carrier or possibly canceling a future aircraft carrier acquisition. the effects of these budget pressures are manifested in the fleet today. the navy's readiness for aviation squad rants, surface ships have continued to decline since 2007 owing to inadequate funding for maintenance, deferred availabilities and the fleet's tempos. in their testimony on navy readiness to the readiness subcommittee on the house side last week the navy witnesses said -- quote -- "this is unsustainable over the long term. " do we really want to spend $1 billion on a redundant home port at the expense of building ships and maintaining our fleet? i would encourage my colleagues to consider a commonsense approach and take a year's time out before embarking on a duplicative enterprise that the navy simply cannot afford. the service has far too many
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higher priorities, unfunded requirements and readiness problems on its plate. the g.a.o. study would be comprehensive, it will be rigorous and it will give us the information we need to make informed judgments next year regarding a homeporting plan for mayport. there is no cause to rush to judgment now. there is $30 million could be saved presently. as i said, this is a slippery slope that could take us down $1 billion. we don't need it. we need the money in other areas in the navy budget. with that, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. vitter: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. if it's required, mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate any quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise to make pending the vitter amendment, which is at the desk, and i'll be happy to explain what it's about. i didn't think that was necessary, but if it is necessary, i ask consent to set aside the pending amendment and make the vitter amendment pending. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the clerk will report. mr. vitter: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to waive reading of the whole. the presiding officer: the clerk will report by number. the clerk: mr. vitter proposes an amendment numbered 568.
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mr. vitter: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i will a read it. it's very short and i'll explain it. this amendment simply says, none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this act shall exceed the level of the concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2012. that's the entire amendment -- quote, unquote. mr. president, the point this amendment makes is a pretty simple but basic and important one. we don't have a concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 12012. we're in the process of passing an appropriation bill with this bill, spending money without a budget, without a game plan, without a framework, and that's clearly putting the cart before the horse, and clearly having things backwards, in a dysfunctional process. mr. president, every louisiana family, every louisiana small
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business -- as families and businesses do in minnesota -- sit down and make a budget and then they spend money under that budget. that's the rational, straightforward way to do things. unfortunately, that's not what we're doing here in congress and here in the senate. now, mr. president, this simple, straightforward process is not only rational, it is not only commonsensical, it's also required by law. under federal larks the congress is mandated to pass a budget, to pass a concurrent budget resolution by april 15 of every year. now we're months beyond april 15, several months and counting, and not only do we not have this required budget, this game plan, this framework which we're supposed to be living by, but here on the senate side we
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haven't even made a meaningful effort to get there. the distinguished chairman of the budget committee has not made an effort in committee to come up with a senate budget resolution. there's been no effort in committee and so no senate budget has been sent to the floor. and, in fact, mr. president, the same thing happened in the previous fiscal year. so we're now not just several months past this year's april 15 deadline, but we're over 800 days since the last time we had a budget resolution, as required by federal law -- 800 days -- over 800 days and counting. mr. president, i'm afraid this is exactly the sort of thing the american people shake their heads at. this is exactly the sort of thing they scratch their heads about, shake their heads at and say, what is wrong in
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washington? every louisiana family has a budget that they have to live within. every louisiana small business has a budget, and that's their framework, and they operate within that. and yet congress apparently doesn't get it, particularly the senate doesn't get it under this majority leadership and isn't even making an attempt to do what is not only a good, sound idea but is required by federal law. so, again, mr. president, i just would suggest that we put first things first. we have a budget and then we only spend money, only pass appropriation bills pursuant and consistent with that budget. and that's again, mr. president, my amendment is very simple. quote -- "none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this act shall
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exceed the level of the concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2012." close quote. mr. president, i urge us all to do the right thing. we'll have different ideas about a budget. we'll have different priorities. we'll have an important and a healthy debate. but we need to follow the law. we need to follow common sense. we need to have a budget. and then only pass spending and appropriations bills under that budget and consistent with it. thank you, mr. president. with that, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. kirk: mr. president, i ask that we vitiate the quorum call and i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kirk: mr. president, i share very much the sentiments of my colleague from louisiana, mr. vitter, but i would urge us to not support the amendment because the senate has already ruled on this question. when we debated whether to take up this bill or not, we voted on a cloture motion in order to bring up an appropriations bill. now, for normally we would wanto pass a budget amendment before bringing up an appropriations bill. and it has been over, i think, 800 days since the leadership of this institution has even written and prevented a budget. but i would put forward that this bill is rather unique because it conforms to the budget. it conforms to the house, the paul ryan budget that passed the house on april 15. the legislation before us, i think, is coming before the
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senate because chairman johnson and i have agreed to put a v.a. milcon bill that is $1.25 billion in discretionary budget authority below the president's request. we are coming in $620 million below the 2011-enacted level. and we all remember that the house of representatives has already adopted the v.a. milcon appropriations bill under chairman culberson and the senate bill actually spend on the budget side $2.5 million less than the house bill. because we did that, 71-26 was the vote on cloture to bring this bill up, including the support of the republican leader, mr. mcconnell, and our vice-chairman on the republican side of the appropriations committee, mr. cochran. i do think that for a bill that has been endorsed by the
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veterans of foreign wars and other veterans service organizations, a bill that gets the senate moving again for its regular duties as part of the appropriations process and for a bill that actually cuts funding, chairman johnson and i have reduced funding in 24 separate programs in this budget and including denying a brand-new courthouse for the veterans of court of appeals, and pressuring the army, for example, when we found a proposal to spend $1.4 million on a general's garden in germany -- when awful those 24 reductions were made, when we denied the new building, when we meet the other reductions, we came in with a bill that is below the bill that ised by the house of representatives. that's why this legislation has come up. that's why the senate voted 71-26 for cloture to bring the bill up. and i would just put the fact of
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the matter is this bill actually does comply with the budget. it complies with the house of representatives' budget which is why it has such strong bipartisan support. and with that, let me suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. a senator: mr. president? mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i ask the call of the quorum be vitiated, please. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president, first of all, i want to congratulate my colleague, senator kirk, for bringing this to the floor and getting it through committee in a way that i think defines where we need to go. we were sent here not to continue to increase spending. we were sent here to try to find a sensible way of moving forward by reducing expenditures and still providing essential services that only the federal government can provide. and his committee -- his subcommittee and committee have done that with this bill before us and so i commend him for
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bringing this in under budget. it's savings have actually occurred. we're changing the culture of this united states senate from one of ever-increasing spending to oversight and looking carefully at how we spend taxpayers' dollars. every dollar is important and we've got a lot of those dollars stacked up in terms of debt that have to be addressed, and looking at each separate appropriation really and getting to regular order is where we need to get to. now, we all know we can't get there until we settle this urgent question relative to raising the debt limit or dealing with the debt limit situation but also hopefully accompanied by a sensible, rational plan moving forward that's credible with financial markets and credible relative to the -- the process that we have to go through to address this really substantial debt hole that we are in and deficit spending that we're in.
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so anyway, this is a good -- i see this as a good start. i didn't come -- i'm not on that committee. i didn't come down for the purpose of addressing that specific bill although i have looked at details as a member of the appropriations committee and i think the senator from illinois and his colleague, the chairman, senator johnson, come forward with a very good product that addresses our military construction needs and addresses our welfare benefits and does it in a way that shows that we can achieve savings from doing that. mr. president, what i'd like to speak about just briefly is the balanced budget amendment that we will be dealing with shortly or perhaps later this week. when i first came to congress, what i had committed to the people of indiana was to support a balanced budget amendment. i had watched the process and since i've been here and gone and now back continued to watch the process where we just simply don't have that discipline that
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drives us to decisions that keeps our fiscal house in balance. there's so many temptations. atemptations as amember of congo say "yes" to everybody. everybody pleads their cause. they come in and they make their case, and over the years we have gradually accumulated a substantial amount of debt that we no longer can afford. and i think -- i've come -- i came to the conclusion then and based on historic analysis of the situation but also nothing has changed as i look at the situation now and that is we need a -- something that locks us into a commitment to be careful with taxpayers' money and not spend more than we take in. now, every family understands this, that there's a point at which you have to simply say we've got to stop spending at the rate we're spending because we cannot afford to get into debt. every business understands that. most of our local governments
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and state governments are now realizing that, and as we see across the country, very drastic steps need to be taken to get the -- the fiscal house back in order. that hasn't happened yet at the federal level and thankfully we have before us this week, first in the house of representatives and now here, an attempt to debate and address the issue of a federally constitutionally mandated -- federal constitutionally mandated balanced budget. and i look forward to that debate. so just to in a sense start off with it, let's just look back at a little history. when the balanced budget amendment first came before the senate in the 1990's -- it came up before, of course, but in 1997, our nation's debt stood at $5.3 trillion. today that debt has accelerated nearly three time to
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$14.3 trillion and as we know is accelerating even faster and climbing toward much higher numbers. we're borrowing more than 40 cents of every dollar that we spend. we know that's unsustainable, that ultimately it will have a negative impact -- well, it's having a negative impact right now on our economy but it will continue to have an ever-increasing negative impact on our economy in the future if we keep doing that. we clearly i think need the backstop, need the commitment when we put our hand on the bible and raise our right hand and swear on an oath to uphold the constitution of the united states that includes a commitment to be careful with the taxpayers' dollars and particularly understanding the impact that deficit spending has on our economic prospects and on unemployment, a commitment to be open and fair and upfront with the taxpayer who's funding all of this.
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and this is our state of indiana each year has to go before the taxpayers and say, you know, that's a nice proposal that we have here but this is how much it's going to cost. and if you, the taxpayer, wants to pay for that in increased taxes or you, the taxpayer, wants to pay for it by reducing spending somewhere else, that keeps one of those -- one of those processes will keep us in balance. and we cannot end this session without achieving that balance. that's what our state has to go through every year and that's true of the majority of states in this country. but it doesn't happen here. it's, well, we can just borrow more and we'll worry about it later. well, the end of that road is here. we've hit the wall. "later" is no longer a viable option. more debt is no longer a viable option. and without a constructive plan in place to address this and address it now, we are going to continue, in my opinion, to
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remain here at stalemate. there's a lot going on here in the senate. we've been in discussions hours upon hours upon hours, both sides and together, trying to figure out a -- a -- a plan that will put us on the path to fiscal responsibility that can both pass the house -- pass both the house and the senate. but the opportunity now is here to accompany that plan with a balanced budget amendment. now, we know it's going to take time to pass this. it requires two-thirds vote of each house. it then has to be -- if passed and agreed on, it has to be sent to the three-quarters of the state and three-quarters of those states have to ratify that. that's going to take several years. but if the american people understood that behind whatever plan we put in place to deal with our fiscal problems we had a balanced budget amendment to the constitution in place to back it up, they would have assurance that we're on the
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right track. i think that signal alone to the financial markets and the world markets alone, that would enormously impact psychologically the confidence in the american people and in investors around the world that the united states is -- has seen the problem, it has taken action, it is getting its fiscal house in order and that the dollar will stay the world currency and that america will be still the safest haven in the world to invest your funds. we see debt crises all over the world and we see that our own dollar and our own safe haven is being challenged. we see the rating agencies coming forward announcing a drop in our credit rating. statistics are now in that 1.1
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percentage point increase in interest rates which investors will demand if we don't show them a credible plan reduces over a ten-year period of time $1.3 trillion of extra money that we have to spent -- spend to cover our debt. we simply cannot continue this process and the time to do it is now. is it difficult? yes, we've been trying to debate this thing and -- and work on it ever since january. we are not there yet but the clock is ticking toward august 2. this plan is not necessarily tied to the debt limit, the balanced budget amendment, but putting a plan together is and enforcing that plan and gaining the confidence of the american people that this will not just be something overturned by the next congress, not just something that is a piece of paper that doesn't have long-term effect, it will be backed up by a balanced budget with the assurance that going
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forward, america will attend to its fiscal needs and stay strong as a nation financially as well as every other aspect. mr. president, with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. a senator: mr. president, i ask to speak in morning business for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. today i rise to address an issue of fairness for our national guard soldiers. our national guard troops serve with honor and bravery at home and abroad. they have earned the respect and admiration of an entire nation with their incredible sacrifices over the last decade. we must not forget that they have also, in addition to our respect and admiration, earned their compensation and their benefits. to take back a veterans' compensation after she or he has
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fulfilled the requirements is unthinkable, yet that is exactly what is happening around the country in regard to national guard bonuses. let me share with you the story of private first clas class chea wells. this is emblematic of the many stories that they're facing today. and i would like to thank congressman waldon to bringing this to the public's attention and to my attention. i add my voice to his to call for fairness for private first class chelsea wells and for all other members of the national guard. first private class wells is from my home state of oregon where she has served in the oregon national guard for the last three years. in 2007, she enlisted as an intelligence analyst in response to the needs of the army. at the time when she signed her
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enlistment document, she signed an additional document that stipulated she would receive a $20,000 bonus for enlisting in a critical military occupational specialty or m.o.s. that agreement, which was also signed by the enlisting official at her processing station, stated that she would receive the first half of her bonus upon completion of her initial training and the second half after 36 months of service. as planned, private first class wells received that first $10,000 upon completion of her initial training. however, when her 36 months of service was completed, the second half of the bonus was nowhere to be seen. in fact, it was denied. following an inquiry from congressman waldon, the national guard statements that the payments had been denied because
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her specialty was not on the critical skills list at the date of enlistment. however, the very document that private first class wells signed was also signed by an enlisting official very specifically listing her military occupational specialty, 35f, as being a critical skill specialty. i have that document right here. annexee to defense department form 4, nonprior service enlistment bonus addendum. it says, "the purpose of this form is to explain and confirm obligations to ensure that the agreement to these conditions is a matter of record." the whole entire point of this document is to ensure that there is a clear understanding in regard to the eligibility for bonuses. now, this document says on its list of eligibility, and this section is signed by the soldi soldier, "i am enlisting into a
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critical skill military occupational specialty under the 6x2 or 8x0 enlistment option and will receive an n.p.s. critical skill bonus 50/50 payment." meaning 50 after initial training and 50% at the end of three years. at the end of this document, it has section 9, certification by service representative. i certify, it says -- this is in regard totten listing official, the recruiting officer." i certify that i have witnessed the reading and signing of the above agreement and the signature appearing is that of the applicant. i have verified the soldier meets the eligibility requirements of n.g.r. 600-7, paragraph 2-3, and the applicant's military occupational specialty is currently eligible for an enlistment cash bonus." i think that's pretty clear.
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the story gets even worse. not only is our own military saying they are not going to award the second haft of the bonus, but they want her to return the first half because apparently they made some kind of mistake, in between the recruiting officer and their higher-ups. i must say that any individual should have the right to a reward he or she was contractually owed, and there are no individuals who deserve the reward more than our brave men and women in uniform who have already made so many sacrifices, large and small, to ensure the security and safety of our nation. private first class wells upheld her end of the bargain. she signed this document, enlistment document in good faith. she answered the call to serve
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when she was needed, and she served with honor for the full term. now we must uphold our promise to her and to other national guard veterans who find themselves being punished by the same dispute that was no fault of their own, who signed these documents in good faith with the certification of the listing officer that they were indeed eligible. what is absolutely clear is that whatever dispute there may be between the listing officers and authorities higher up the chain, that is not chelsea wells' fault. she served in good faith under a very clear document, and we owe her and all the national guard soldiers who are being pursued in the same fashion the bonuses that were promised to them.
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mr. president, we ask a tremendous amount of those who serve. now is when we should be giving back, not asking for more. asking a soldier to give back money they received under a document they signed in good faith and fulfilled in good faith is 100% unacceptable. i and my colleagues from the state of oregon call on the national guard today to resolve this matter and to make sure that this right is done, that this wrong is resolved. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: senator: madam pre.
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the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: what's the pending business at this hour, madam president? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to vacate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending business and to call up my amendment, amendment 570, as modified. the presiding officer: is there objection? the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oregon, mr. wyden, proposes amendment 570. on page 84 -- mr. wyden: i would ask for the immediate consideration of amendment 570 as modified. the presiding officer: the amendment has been reported. it is now pending.
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mr. wyden: madam president, when we have a conflict or a problem in my home state, we resolve it the oregon way, by finding consensus and building common ground. that's why when it became apparent 20 years ago that the u.s. army's camden depot in -- chemical depot in yumatilla, oregon, would be closing once all the chemical weapons were destroyed, the community leaders gathered all the stakeholders together and began the process of planning what to do with the land once the facility closed. the yumatilla depot straddles two counties, several cities and historic tribal lands, so there are a lot of folks in my home state who are interested in what happens to the land. as progress was made in destroying the weapons at yumatilla, the community built common ground and found a genuine consensus. the federal government was supportive. it gave more than $1 million in
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assistance. and when the facility was listed in the 2005 bracc recommendations for closure, the pentagon eventually recognized a group of stakeholders as an official local reuse authority. everything, mr. president, appeared on track until last month. that was when the 11th hour the pentagon changed the rules. after decades of planning and a million dollars in preparation, a lawyer at the pentagon decided to reinterpret the law and declare that the 2005 bracc report, which became law when congress didn't pass a resolution of disapproval, really didn't matter. that lawyer decided that the yumatilla depot would be closed outside of the bracc authority because the last of the chemical
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weapons wouldn't be destroyed until after the six-year limit for completion of bracc actions. what this lawyer either didn't know or somehow missed is that this was precisely the intention of the bracc commission when they put the yumatilla depot on the closure list. the bracc report discusses the fact that the mission of destroying the chemical weapons wouldn't be completed until after the deadline. on page 239 of the report, the commission found that secretary rumsfeld's assertion that the chemical demille tarrization mission at yumatilla would be complete by the second quarter of this year was optimistic. the commission wrote, and i quote -- "examination of the status information for the depot's mission completion and subsequent closure revealed that sites may slip beyond the

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U.S. Senate
CSPAN July 19, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

News/Business.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 32, The Navy 25, Washington 22, United States 17, Navy 14, U.s. 10, Mayport 9, Oregon 8, Boehner 8, Mcconnell 8, Mr. Johnson 7, Illinois 6, Louisiana 6, Mr. Wyden 6, Joseph Schatz 4, Mitch Mcconnell 4, Jay Carney 4, United States Senate 4, Florida 4, Virginia 4
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